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Athlete Spotlight: Nicole Wells and Ebony Wells

Posted: Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Columbia County girls basketball coaches knew entering the 2007-08 season they'd have to stop Nicole Wells to stop Harlem.

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What they didn't plan for was Wells' little sister, Ebony.

Or rather, Nicole's younger sister.

At 6-feet, 2-inches , the freshman Ebony is 3 inches taller than her older sister, and she's providing a double-dose of problems for opposing defenses.

"At the beginning of the season, teams double-teamed Nicole," Lady Bulldogs coach Amy Slagle said. "They didn't know about Ebony."

It didn't take long for opposing coaches to learn Ebony's name. The freshman is averaging 14.3 points and 7 rebounds a game, despite not having started organized basketball until seventh grade.

Ebony's play has already caught the attention of University of Georgia, University of South Carolina and Clemson, and has allowed Nicole to play around the perimeter, where she's more comfortable.

"I don't like contact," Nicole said.

The two sisters are playing on the same team for the first time and opposing teams are having trouble adjusting. Under the direction of first-year coach Slagle, the Bulldogs are 12-7, well ahead of last year's 9-15 mark.

Harlem lost in the second round of the Region 3-AAA tournament each of Nicole's first two varsity seasons, falling one win shy of the state playoffs. Ebony might prove the addition needed to advance one more step.

"We had three goals to begin the year," Slagle said. "Beat last year's record, set the pace on offense, and we wanted to make state."

State playoffs would be fresh territory for Nicole and Ebony, but they're accustomed to moving around. With a father in the military, the girls spent two separate stints in Germany, sandwiched around a stay in Texas.

The girls moved to Columbia County during Nicole's eighth-grade year, and the older Wells sister has been playing basketball for Harlem since. Ebony, though, required a little prodding.

"I wanted to be a cheerleader," she said.

Those plans were permanently put on hold.

Ebony found the middle school competition a little awkward at her size. She was more comfortable playing AAU ball against stiffer competition during the summer, and it helped her prepare for her first full high school season.

According to her older sister, though, there are still some things Ebony can learn. During a recent game, Ebony picked up a technical after she was already whistled for three fouls. Ebony didn't realize a technical counted double.

"You just fouled out," Nicole told her.

"No, I didn't," Ebony said.

Nicole was right, Ebony sat on the bench for the remainder of the game and came away with another lesson to apply to her young career.

For the most part, though, the Wells sisters have avoided sisterly spats and instead have annoyed opponents.

Ebony and Nicole have their own inside-outside game. The younger, taller sister works the post and frees Nicole to work on her jump shot on the perimeter and distribute the ball.

"I like the assists," Nicole said. "And working on my passing skills."



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